UAMS Awards State Opioid Response Grant to The Guidance Center

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University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Department of Psychiatry, has awarded a State Opioid Response (SOR) grant to Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center commonly known as The Guidance Center.

In February, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) announced they had received $3 million from the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) to compensate facilities across the state providing medication-assisted treatment to opioid use disorder patients.

The money allows medical providers like The Guidance Center to offer treatment for opioid use disorder to patients without insurance or the ability to pay for services. This new effort is an offshoot of MATRIARC (Medication Assisted Treatment Recovery Initiative for Arkansas Rural Communities), a partnership between UAMS’ Psychiatric Research Institute and DHS.

The funds will cover expenses including the cost of medication, hiring peer support specialists, providing treatment services and even travel costs for patients using medication-assisted treatment.

“We are really the stewards of the money, our job is to give it away,” said Michael Mancino, M.D., a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry who oversees the MATRIARC program. “We are working with clinics already providing medication-assisted treatment to people below the poverty line, so they don’t have to turn anyone away. We look forward to continuing these efforts with previous and new awardees.”

Medication-assisted treatment involves the use of medication to relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms along with counseling and support to overcome the use of opioids.

Medication-assisted treatment includes methadone, which can only be dispensed through an opiate treatment program; products containing buprenorphine, which require a federal waiver for prescribers; and injectable naltrexone, which does not require special qualifications for prescribing. Research has shown that a combination of medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy can successfully treat opioid use disorder and help sustain recovery.

According to Kasey Wilson, Co-Occuring Director at the Guidance Center, in the 12 months leading up to July 2020, there were 83,000 overdose deaths in the US, that’s an increase of 21 percent over the previous year. The awarded grant will help remove the barrier for the uninsured and underinsured to receive treatment services.

The grant will cover behavioral health counseling and the prescriber appointments for buprenorphine/naltrexone at clinics located in Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Polk, Scott, Sebastian counties. Naltrexone specifically blocks the effects of other opioids and buprenorphine eases the effects of opioid withdrawal. This grant also includes funds to hire a Peer Recovery Support Specialist. A Peer is someone with sustained recovery and is licensed to help others in their journey of recovery. The Guidance Center utilizes an interdisciplinary team of professionals in providing medication-assisted treatment, offers flexible treatment scheduling including the opportunity to participate in telehealth.

For more information about co-occurring (substance use and mental health) services or specifically medication assisted treatment through The Guidance Center call (479) 785-9470, send e-mail to [email protected] or visit www.wacgc.com

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Tammy Teague

Tammy Teague

Education: 1995 MHS graduate; 1999 Arkansas Tech University Graduate - BA in Journalism. Career: Managing Editor - The Citizen; Copy Writer - Southwest Times Record; Editor - Resident Press. 20+ years experience in the news.

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